Former York Revolution starting pitcher Brett Tomko and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a minor league deal Thursday.
Although he has yet to officially sign a contract, Tomko said by phone Thursday evening that he passed a physical early Thursday and will report to the Royals' minor league spring training camp in Arizona late Friday.
The deal came shortly after Tomko threw for nearly a dozen Royals front office personnel and scouts Thursday morning.
Tomko, who will turn 41 in April, posted a 4.98 ERA in 19 starts for York last season, striking out 90 and walking 30 in 124.2 innings of work. The right-hander pitched in the Dominican Republic over the winter hoping to impress big league scouts. His first two starts in the Dominican Republic in December were rough — eight runs (five earned) allowed on 12 hits in just five innings. But his last two were solid – four earned runs allowed on nine hits in 11 innings. Overall, he struck out nine and walked five.
Tomko has been working the phones ever since trying to find a minor league deal.
"A lot of people had a hard time getting over the fact I am 40-years-old. But if you saw me in person I do not look 40-years-old," Tomko said. "I threw for Baltimore (over the offseason). Down in the Dominican (Republic) there were scouts from the (Miami) Marlins down there looking at me along with Seattle, Boston. The Phillies said 'we'll keep you in mind in the spring if something happens.' I've been throwing bullpens in San Diego, simulated games just in case something happened."
Feeling the Royals were looking for a pitcher, Tomko contacted the Kansas City front office recently and sold them on letting him work out for them.
"I knew when (Royals' pitcher) Luke Hochevar went down (with an injury last week) and they released (pitcher Brad) Penny (last week) there would be a couple guys being brought up (from the minors). So I contacted them and said 'look at me, give me a 15-minute bullpen.' That's all I asked. I drove out (to Arizona on Wednesday night) and got in about 8 o'clock. I showed up this morning, did my bullpen."
Tomko said he's not sure if he'll be a starter or reliever or if he'll begin the year in the minors at Class AA or Class AAA.
"I told them 'I'll do anything you want me to do. Any role you want me to pitch. I was in York, Pa., in independent ball last year. I'll pitch anywhere in minor league ball. I'll do whatever you want. I busted my (butt) this winter in the Dominican (Republic). Just tell me whatever role you want me in,'" Tomko said.
Tomko would make $510,000 should he return to the majors this season, according to Foxsports.com's Ken Rosenthal.
Tomko has a 100-103 career record in 397 big league games (266 starts) over 14 seasons in the majors, having pitched for 10 different big league clubs from 1997 to 2011.
"I got my foot in the door," Tomko said. "Now it's up to me to see what happens."
Tomko is the 10th former Rev to be signed to a minor league deal by a big league organization over the offseason, joining starting pitcher Ryan Feierabend (Texas Rangers); relief pitcher Josh Judy (Los Angeles Dodgers); infielders Andy Marte (Arizona Diamondbacks), Joe Thurston (Milwaukee Brewers) and Chad Tracy (Baltimore Orioles); outfielders Mark Teahen (San Francisco Giants), Tyler Graham (Giants) and Brian Burgamy (New York Mets); and utility man Eric Patterson (Chicago White Sox).
Also, former Revs' pitcher Ian Thomas will return to the Atlanta Braves' minor league system in 2014, while former York pitcher Scott Rice is expected to return to the New York Mets' bullpen. Marte, Thomas and Rice are currently in big league spring training.
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.